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Golf’s Ban on Anchor Putting: Fair or Unfair?

Jan 29, 2014

It could be a case of nerves. Your game has all come down to one putt and your hands are shaking like crazy. Or perhaps you fall into a category teaching professionals call “handsy” or “wristy.” Either way, many golfers, PGA tour players included, pull out a long putter or belly putter and anchor it to their body for added stability. That is, until January 1, 2016.

That’s when the USGA’s ban on anchor putting takes effect, and the practice becomes officially illegal for the game. Golf’s governing body has determined that, “intentionally securing one end of the club against the body to create a point of physical attachment…is a substantial departure from the traditional free swing.” 

President Glen Nager said that, “Anchoring had created serious division within the game and among players about whether those who anchor play the same game and face the same challenges. Rule 14-1b will remove the cause of this division.”

Belly and long putter clubs are still legal for play, they just may not be anchored to the body.

The new rule has stirred up quite a bit of debate in the golf community, perhaps because four of the past six major championship winners used an anchored stroke. PGA of America president Ted Bishop is among those giving Rule 14-1b considerable pushback, saying surveys conducted among the 28,000 teaching pros in his organization concluded a ban would hurt the growth of the game.

Where does Golf Academy of America weigh in on the issue? It seems that our professionals are a good representation of the golfing community at large. We’ve got valid points and mixed emotions.

“Anchor putting should definitely be allowed. If it was that big of an advantage, everybody would do it. Why ban something that so many people derive enjoyment from?” --Jim Hart, MBA, President, Golf Academy of America

“I support the USGA’s ban on anchoring the club against the body. The club has always been swung freely which allows for more variable, thereby making the action more difficult. It would be easier to putt if we could straddle the line and have putters with shafts attached vertically to the head. We could then take the putter back and then drop it, allowing gravity to do much of the work. This also is not allowed. Why? To preserve the inherent difficulty of the putting motion. This is the same concept used to justify banning the anchoring of the club against the body, and I agree with it.” Anthony Sable, PGA, Instructor at Golf Academy of America in San Diego

“I think it should be legal because the door has already been open. Many golfers have learned the game with this putting style.  Also, I think it helps grow the game. I'm in favor of more options and more opportunities for players as well as companies who are making these products.” Matt McConnin, PGA, Instructor at Golf Academy of America in San Diego

No matter your stance on anchor putting, the ban is headed our way. Golf Academy of America’s teaching professionals will continue stay at the forefront of best practices, improving the game for students and those they will impact down the road.